I finished reformatting and doing some preliminary polishing of the fourth and fifth Max’s House books, and have now converted the five files making up the sixth book, Two Happy Endings. I was right to remember this one as being one of the longer MH books completed to date. The approximate word count, prior to doing much reformatting and polishing, is around 93,000. It covers December 1942 to June of 1943, and ends with Kit’s brother Saul getting a very angry surprise that’s a happy ending only for the hated Mrs. Green, being able to walk again after spending the last 21 months in a wheelchair.
Kit and Mrs. Green never exactly have the friendliest relationship, to say the least, and Kit was the one who put her mother in that wheelchair in the first place. Their acrimonious relationship is kind of a satire on the horrible parent-child relationships shown so often on Maury, only of course exaggerated for a black comedic effect and to satirize how horrible things can be between a parent and child who’ve never gotten along or had anything in common. I suppose my style of satirizing and irreverant, sometimes absurd and dark, humor could be compared to some of the stuff on a show like Family Guy. I know in real life Kit would be considered a juvenile delinquent, a huge bitch with a violent temper, and a sex-addicted slut and heartless serial cheater, but her character is over the top on purpose. It’s part of the reason why I love her.
Two Happy Endings got the lion’s share of the salvageable material from the horrid Proud to Be a Smart. I used some of the salvageable material in some of the other books too, but #6 seems to take the most of it. The book is also like two books in one, the interlinked stories of Cinni and Levon getting together in the early days of their relationship and Cinni and Kit’s shared granddaughter Livia and her husband Liam, Violet’s grandson, in 2007. Livia and Liam also defied convention by running away and getting married. Livia is Jewish and Liam is Wiccan, and they’re raising their girls as Jewitch (which is actually a pretty interesting religious combination, and far from unusual). Instead of waiting around for their friends or relatives to approve or apologize for having tried to break them up, they decided to make their own happy ending on their own terms. The 2007 story (which was quite a bit in the future when I wrote the first draft) is told in the present tense, but the predominating 1942-43 story is still in the past tense. The book was written between 16 August 1999 and 10 July 2000, and I have some pages printed out from it, to use as reference for parts of Saga VI of Cinnimin.
A lot of good stuff happens in #6, like the introduction of Peter Cunningham, the love of Kit’s life; Kit’s scandalous carryings-on with three boys at once, instead of the usual two; Max and Elaine throwing a huge New Year’s Eve party when the adults are away, topped off by Max wrecking his easily-angered father’s new car in a horrific freak accident with about 20 passengers stuffed inside; the annoying behavior of Liana and Eugenia Wilson, two of the current British kids the Greens are housing (from Birmingham, my great-great-grandma’s hometown); Kit getting fake glasses because she thinks it makes her look cool, and soon getting them destroyed by Sam, on orders from Violet; Violet getting pregnant by Gayle’s on-again, off-again boyfriend R.R., and her decision about what she’s going to do about it; and Violet finding out not only that her mother is finally pregnant with a third child, but that neighbor John Holiday has been spying on her and her sister Mandy and taking pictures of them in various states of undress. Kit also tells some good dirty jokes to the horrified Wilson girls in one section.
I think #5 could stand for a bit of lengthening. I went to special care to have minimal overlap between the Max’s House books and Saga I of Cinnimin, but now I think that leaves a rushed narration, or one with gaps. I suppose it’s not the end of the world to have exactly the same scenes and dialogues in both books, so long as that’s not done frequently. I could probably up it from around 51,000 words to perhaps 10,000 words more (maybe more, maybe less) if I took out those place-holder paragraphs in Part III and just depicted the events it says Cinni is telling Levon about over the fall of 1942. Events like Halloween, Violet’s birthday party, and the launching of AS into action, after all that planning and initiating they did over the spring.
In Part II, I also took a similar, rushed-narrative approach to Cinni’s birthday, which was depicted over many pages and quite some detail in her own book. In #5, it’s mostly told from Max’s POV, that he’s so busy making special plans to celebrate the year-anniversary of his and Al’s first time that he forgets it’s his best female friend’s birthday. Then he sits at the party as he and Al whisper about what a disgusting display Cinni is putting on, trying to one-up Elaine for the self-centered display she made at her own birthday in December. And, after all, Max and Elaine are the protagonists of the series, even if Cinni gets a lion’s share of the storylines in the fourth, fifth, and sixth books. They should get more action in their own series.
I know #6 is on the long side because it fits with the plot trajectory and the six-month timeline, unlike #3, which was just overwritten. I think #7, which has always been one of my favorites, might be somewhere around the length of #1. The first draft was handwritten, and written at a time when my writing was a bit larger and had bigger spaces between each word. And it’s always fun to write one of the Summer books.
I’m kind of glad I gave up too quickly on getting published a decade ago, since the future part of the storyline in #6 is now in the past, not the future. I can correct any errors there might be. The one error that’s already been corrected is Livia’s form of birth control. Norplant was off the market by 2007, so I switched her to Implanon. There also might be something about Livia’s cousin George talking about his namesake in the present tense, and George Harrison sadly passed from the material world a year and four months after I finished the first draft.